The Instigator
leethal
Pro (for)
Winning
2 Points
The Contender
NeoConCommunist
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

The death penalty by lethal injection is too lenient a punishment compared to life in prison.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/11/2009 Category: Society
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 4,285 times Debate No: 6890
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (0)
Votes (2)

 

leethal

Pro

A lot of people are against the death penalty because they feel it is too harsh a punishment. I'm personally against it because I don't feel that it is harsh enough on those truly deserving of punishment.

As long as it is done painlessly, the death penalty is over before it begins. Sure, it must be psychologically punishing to know, to the day, when you will die, but this is the only punishment the death penalised prisoner will receive. Once the injection has been made, the criminal slowly fades to an unending sleep. The prisoner will now Rest In Peace, so to speak. There will be no further pain or suffering, no further thought put to the perhaps unspeakable crimes the prisoner has committed. My opponent may argue that the deceased can no longer enjoy a nice sunset or watch their kids grow old, or enjoy life in general. The point I am making is that dead people are unable to reflect on the past and realise what they are missing out on, while someone doing life imprisonment can certainly dwell on these things. Hence they are being punished far more harshly.

Now consider someone given life imprisonment. There is every possibility and indeed likelihood that this person will be punished, mentally and physically in prison. They will be forced every day to think about the crimes that landed them in the situation they are in, and a guilty conscience can often be akin to torture. They will be forced to eat food they don't particularly enjoy, as opposed to the deceased who will never again be forced to do anything they don't want to, and will not be able to consider what he/she is missing out on. The prisoners will be forced into laborious jobs they don't enjoy, and again this obviously can't be said of the deceased.

I could go on but I feel I'm rambling. My point is that someone put painlessly into an eternal sleep has hardly been punished at all, and certainly much less than someone put into prison for life.
NeoConCommunist

Con

My opponents argument is based on the assumption that 'vengeance' is the root of punishment of crime in a society - that society seeks revenge on those that have wronged it. However, I would contend that 'vengeance' is an unimportant aspect of justice. Punishing criminals is done for two reasons: a) deterrence (e.g. 'discouraging' proto-criminals from committing crimes in the first place) and b) protecting society from those who would still seek to commit crimes (and, in the case of crimes which are settled in monetary terms, to compensate the victim; however, we are discussing people who would be on death row i.e. rapists and murderers, so compensation for the victims is not really possible in these cases).

Deterrance is the most important aspect of the justice system: simply by instituting and making known punishments for crimes, the justice system prevents the vast majority of violent crimes that would occur (for proof, see what happens when rule of law breaks down; one example is the Montreal police strike: http://query.nytimes.com...). For deterrence power, the death penalty and life imprisonment are around equal, as both are impossible to comprehend effectively. Nobody can know beforehand what death is like, and life in prison isn't all that easy to imagine either. In any case, a potential violent criminal is unlikely to be deterred by the prospect of life imprisonment but unfazed by the prospect of death, so the death penalty is equal to if not better than life imprisonment from a deterrance standpoint.

Protecting the society is the second function of punishment: keeping killers and rapists from repeating their crimes. Death is the surest way of achieving this; once the criminal is dead, it's literally impossible for them to commit more crimes. While life imprisonment in maximum security is a near-guarantee of the inability of the criminal to repeat his crime, there remains the small chance of the criminal committing a crime in prison (i.e. stabbing another prisoner or stabbing a guard) and the chance that the criminal will escape and become once again a threat to society. Therefore, in regard to the protection of society, the death penalty is superior to all other forms of punishment, life imprisonment included.

A third thing to consider while debating punishments is the cost to society. The death penalty is very cheap: all that is required is either a few volts of energy or some chemicals, and it's over. Life imprisonment has far higher costs. In addition to the risk of escape, imprisoning people has many costs that come out of tax dollars. Society must pay for the guards, the food, and the facilities required for life imprisonment. By making death the mandatory punishment for certain crimes, like rape, murder, and particularly nasty cases of kidnapping (a policy I support), many maximum security prisons could be closed. The policemen needed to guard those prisons could be returned to the streets and neighborhoods, making them safer. Taxes could be reduced since we would no longer need to pay to support those in those prisons. By contrast, making life imprisonment the default would increase the number of policemen needed in jails, increase tax money needed to fund the prison system, and increase the risks to society and the monetary cost caused by escapes. Therefore, in regard to the cost to society, again the death penalty is superior to life imprisonment.

The concept of whether the criminal suffers more in prison or by death is irrelevant to society, which is the entity administering the punishment. As long as future criminals are deterred and past criminals are kept from repeating their crimes, (and the punishment isn't too harsh for the crime - but again, I assume we are talking about the worst kind of criminals) the punishment is a good one. Very, very few people in society are interested in the suffering of criminals - but many are interested in their safety and the size of their taxes. So by all the measures that society would be interested in, the death penalty is superior to life in prison. In fact, the death penalty is a very good punishment by all standards - cheap to implement, a fantastic deterrent to crime, and eliminates any possibility of a repeat crime.
Debate Round No. 1
leethal

Pro

I thank my opponent for accepting the debate, but I'm afraid his ENTIRE argument (excellent though it was) is unrelated to the resolution.

My opponent has provided 3 arguments why the death penalty is beneficial for society, or at least more beneficial than placing someone in prison for life. I happen to agree heartily with these arguments, but once again, this has nothing to do with the resolution. These arguments would be much more welcome in a debate called "In terms of a society's well-being, the death penalty is better than life imprisonment", or something similar.

I'm sure it was no more than an honest mistake, so I would like to remind my opponent that the resolution we are debating is that "the death penalty by lethal injection IS TOO LENIENT A PUNISHMENT compared to life in prison." That is, too lenient on the person deserving of punishment. My arguments from Round 1 remain unchallenged and so at this stage, the resolution is AFFIRMED.
NeoConCommunist

Con

NeoConCommunist forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
leethal

Pro

My opponent has forfeited his 2nd round. All of my arguments from Round 1 remain unchallenged, as my opponent's 1st rebuttal was completely unrelated to the resolution. Vote PRO.
NeoConCommunist

Con

NeoConCommunist forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
No comments have been posted on this debate.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by U.n 9 months ago
U.n
leethalNeoConCommunistTied
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Total points awarded:10 
Reasons for voting decision: Forfeiture
Vote Placed by studentathletechristian8 7 years ago
studentathletechristian8
leethalNeoConCommunistTied
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Total points awarded:10